Thursday, November 18, 2010
A Quilt Market experience that we aren't likely to repeat
The simple fact that it has taken me precisely 2 weeks and 2 days to share my Quilt Market experience speaks volumes about what went into it, what it was, what it wasn't and how much time it takes to recover. I know that I am not really sharing photos that you haven't already seen elsewhere (provided you're into that sorta thing), in fact many of these aren't even my photos, but borrowed from my pal April (thank you!).
This year I was so happy to have my mama join me for the first time. I mention this because I always like starting with the good news. Having her with me was definitely the goods news. It is more typical for her to be at home caring for the kids while we (Jeff and a rotating group of employees) are working the booth trip. Fall market always falls near Joseph's birthday. I can typically be back home just in time to celebrate with him on the actual day, or pretty close. But this time it fell smack dab in the middle. This fact, plus wanting my mom to join me, plus some cockamaimee idea that we can handle a lot inspired us to make this market a whole family trip. Unfortunately not the whole family, as Juliana is tucked safely into college. But all available offspring from birth positions 2 through 6, ages 12yrs to 18 months, boys, girls, cranky, happy, you name it, if they live in this house, they came. As we say around here, the whole fam damily.
The trip out involved some peoples flying, some peoples driving, and on the way back it was mostly the reverse, so that every kid got a plane ride. Also, Jeff and I, who drove both ways, could have a rotating group of whiny kids in the not very big cab of the truck that Jeff's dad let us drive but that he thought maybe should be looked at before we go because there could be some sort of grumble, grumble, issue with it, grumble. But off we went (without having the truck looked at, which wasn't MY plan) pulling a Uhaul trailer full of my booth, and our big boys, 12 and just about to turn 11, nestled into the not very big cab of the truck. (I should interject the word cozy here because it should be included but I haven't found a factual way to use it in the description of the trip or the truck yet, but doing such, albeit synthetically, might help my mental state, and eventually my market memories. Where was I?) I would say the trip was pretty smooth and uneventful the first evening of driving from about 6:30pm until about 1:00am. The next morning we headed out after a brief hotel stay, a good breakfast and all was going great until the Uhaul blew a tire somewhere around Texarkana. In fact, right before that I was thinking how ahead of schedule we were and that we should be at the convention center by about mid day and have all of the booth structure up by the close of set up at 8:00. I was wrong about that. We instead spent about 3 or 4 hours repairing a tire (two tires actually, because they weren't the right kind of tires so we had to put the same wrong tire on the other side of the trailer to balance the first wrong tire, so I think that actually two wrongs might make a right) during which I just sat in the not very big cab of the truck and handquilted one of my quilts. I was glad that it wasn't worse, I guess, that it wasn't dangerous and that Jeff is very manly when it comes to side of the road car situations and all that.
This story is getting more detail-y than I thought. I think this is why I put it off.
We didn't get to set up at all that day but rather arrived around 8 or 9pm, just in time to rent a van, and pickup the rest of the kids, Mom, and Alexia (good worker bee) from the airport. It was so good to see the rest of the brood after traveling for two days. We had a very late meal at the hotel and I got my second night of not-great sleep, knowing that we only had one day to put up the whole show, teach my schoolhouse class in the middle of it and salvage what I thought would be fun evenings spent with the family.
I need to interrupt this prose with a bullet point format:
* Set up went smoothly in some ways, screwy in others
* I felt a day behind because of that tire
* I still feel a day behind because of that tire
* My booth contract was for a standard 10'x20' booth, which has 3 walls
* My booth display was created to have 3 walls, due to previous bullet
* My actual booth space at the convention center was a corner with 2 walls
* I had words to say to people about that
* If I had known they were going to give me a corner space, I would have either designed a two wall booth, or thought of some really gorgeous and inventive and promotion driven way to design the back side of the 3rd wall that faced the aisle so that I would not be baring the constructed guts of my booth to the unsuspecting and kind quilt market attendees, but rather using the 8'x10' wall space in a useful, beautiful way
* I thought to pack a fat quarter of all of the new fabrics in my suitcase before I left
* I also thought to pack a sewing machine
* The above 3 bullets + Alexia produced a large pieced, and I'd have to say, rather swanky fabric drape for the outer side of the 3rd wall
* During schoolhouse I thought that maybe my tongue was tied into a knot because there were words that wouldn't come out all the way
* Everyone smiled anyway, then we got back to the booth
* By late in the evening all the booth needed was flowers
* Flowers shouldn't be such a big deal, but for me they are
* I'm sorry about that
* I have a favorite place in Houston to go get flowers so I thought that we should all go together
* A family trip of sorts
* Maybe we could eat too
* It was late
* Too late, really, for a family trip to get flowers and a bite to eat
* I could not let my vision of work + family seamlessly working out beautifully go
* But there was that tire
* And the wall
* And the lost day
* And then there was the fact that we went the wrong way to my favorite place to get flowers, which may or may not have to do with my ability to use the direction thingy on my new phone, this is up for debate, nevertheless the situation produced a very very long trip to get flowers and arriving there just 5 minutes before my favorite place to get flowers was about to close and also produced Roman running out of sitting-in-a-rented-van-waiting-for-dinner-2-hours-past-his-bedtime patience
* This means he screamed his head off for about 30 minutes in the car
* I cried harder than Roman
* The rest of the night involved me going to bed with Roman, without dinner, and the rest of the family eating another very late night meal at the hotel (and it could have also possibly involved Jeff insisting that I eat, me insisting that I sleep, him getting me a meal anyway, waking me up to eat it, me refusing to eat it cause I'd already fallen asleep and was not happy to be awake, then not being able to sleep only to get up at about 2am to eat the (stupid) cold salmon while sitting on the hotel toilet with the door shut so I wouldn't wake anyone up. Maybe.)
* My husband takes very good care of me
* The flowers were beautiful
* In the days that followed, said husband also had the golden opportunity to take care of the truck at a nearby dealer once it started making some unfriendly noises
* $2000 and several shuttles from the hotel to the dealer with most of the kids in tow later, Jeff also managed to get the repaired truck back that would hopefully make it home
* We made it home
In summary, the 3 actual show days involved me smiling, talking, chatting, sharing and getting to say thank you for the booth, the work, my fabric, my patterns, my ideas, my art. Sharing those days with my mom was memorable. Sharing the evenings with my family was welcome, but the children were always all a little weary from being plucked out of their normalcy, Jeff always worn from trying to keep them all entertained without driving himself mad, and me always feeling a little bad that I couldn't let the vision of mixing this all up go. If we weren't aware of how much is too much to take on before, I think we may have an inkling now. Its hard to quantify all the benefits of appearing at market each season to share what I'm working on with retailers, but I know that it has become an inherent part of my process that I would struggle to let go. Bringing the whole family along, I think I can let go. The fact is that it is the only time I get to put it all together physically, in a setting or a staging of sorts, wherein I relish, absorb and understand a little better all that I have been working at. Its my show and my work. My pleasure and my pain. I love each of my little bozos, and my husband bounds more for humoring my dream of trying to make it all work at once. Whew.
If I could leave a frosted brownie at the end of this little ditty to reward you for making it all the way through it with me, I would.
your pal, Anna